Producing Tension

Local producer Larry Elyea finds himself in the midst of the Valley's national ambition

"It's been the hardest thing I've ever done, to get back on the drums within three weeks," a sleepless Addington says as he rests on a leather couch behind the small three-room studio's main console (tiny as it may be, the intimate red-and-black-walled room is a near $300,000 investment, according to Elyea).

Elyea, in this setting, his sonic playground since 1992, is more of a mentor than a friend. You can see his sense of stewardship as he leads guitarist Jesse Lacross through a tricky but supple melodic guitar line and then moments later as he suggests a counter melody line to balance things out further down in the mix.

"When I first met these guys, they were pretty avant-garde arrangement-wise," Elyea says. He also produced the band's full-length debut, Trade In Your Halo, released last year on Sunset Alliance. "They wrote straight from feeling. Over time, their song structures got a lot better."

Larry Elyea leads Fivespeed through its most crucial demo.
Kevin Scanlon
Larry Elyea leads Fivespeed through its most crucial demo.

Lacross agrees. "I would say it's a lot more mature, a lot more dynamic, a lot more thought out," he says. "I think we've found our direction, what we've been looking for."

Lacross then expands on the band's learning curve over the past year. From the sounds of it, the feedback and micromanaging and demands from the Virgin reps have been intense.

"Everyone goes into this a little immature," he says. "It's been a hard time for everyone, but hopefully it'll all be what we wanted."

Maybe Elyea can help them get there, and maybe he can't. Elyea knows he's in a position to help his various clients realize their dreams -- as well as his own, since Gift, too, is in contact with the major labels. But he also seems a little conflicted about the life as a whole.

"Here's the deal with the record labels: Every school of logic that applies everywhere else in life, throw it out the fucking window," he says as he lounges in his chair back in Scottsdale. "How much of an idiot do you have to be to want to do it over and over again?" he ponders. "That'll tell you a little bit about where our heads are. When you do something for so long, you don't know how to do anything else."

Got a problem with Kick & Scream? Let's hear it. Contact the author at his online address,, or at 602-407-1715.

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